ERA/FoEN seeks end to illegal oil refining
…lauds Rivers for actions against practice
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has applauded actions by Rivers State government to address oil theft and refining of stolen crude oil.
The group also called on Federal and state governments in the Niger Delta region to convene a national dialogue to discuss and agree on steps to deal with the menace.
Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, in a statement, said: Although the current action of the Rivers State government is a welcome respite for the people of the state, more still needs to be done.
Recall that civil society groups, local communities, the media and youths, under the auspices of Young Friends of the Earth Nigeria (YFoEN), have engaged in research and advocacy with the aim of making different tiers of government and regulatory institutions to take decisive actions to halt persistent air pollution.
ERA/FoEN stated that four years after local communities, civic groups and youths protested on the streets of Port Harcourt, the government of Rivers State finally decided to take first step towards dealing with the monster.
The group noted that a 2016 World Health Organisation (WHO) factsheet on air pollution stated that air pollution around the world is responsible for 4.2 million premature deaths globally, every year.
Ojo said: “Although, the current action of the Rivers State government is a welcomed respite for the people of the state, more still needs to be done. The governments of other Niger Delta states need to take similar actions by identifying and properly decommissioning all illegal crude oil refining sites in their states to halt this self-inflicted destruction of our environment and unnecessary loss of lives.”
Ojo also called for the development of a holistic framework that addresses both the supply of artisanal products and the high demands for the products, which include rising cost of living, unemployment and severe impact from hydrocarbon pollution on rural livelihoods.
“There is the need for providing alternative income generation sources for these youths to discourage them from the illegal act, hence governments must diversify our economy from oil and gas dependence towards a transition to renewable energy sources such as solar mini-grid and off-grid systems.”
ERA/FoEN Director of Programmes and Administration, Mike Karikpo, alleged that “security agencies in the Niger Delta region aid, influence and provide protection for oil thieves and artisanal oil refining activities. This is, therefore, a matter of national security and President Buhari needs to wield the big stick and cleanse the Augean stable that has become the security architecture in the Niger Delta region.”